A Journal, with Pictures

Veracruz Mexico to Antigua, Guatemala

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Flying

After our short stay in Veracruz we fly the three and a half hour flight to the Guatemala City airport. This is a very interesting flight from a number of points of view. First we have planned our route so that we don’t need oxygen, and over the most hospitable terrain, some elect to change to a short cut route which is fine, but then a MOA goes hot and ATC tries to route everyone over the higher terrain. One hour later, while sitting on the taxiway,  we get this fixed and the rest of the planes leave. Last minute changes in these countries proves to be a bad idea. The flight itself is over very interesting terrain and we fly along the east coast turn west and traverse the low point of the mountain spine of Central America to the west coast, past Tapachula where we will visit later and finally we turn in-land to Guatemala City. We are flying between volcanic mountains, one of which is active. As we turn toward the mountains we are in the clouds, and Guatemala approach has it hands full with regular commercial traffic and a swarm of 12 Cirrus. Lots of vectoring and then an ILS approach to the airport that is 4950 above sea level, with terrain all around. Because of the terrain and traffic, approach keeps us high until the last minuet then its dive for the runway, best landing I made on the whole trip 140 knots over the fence (yikes). We then taxi to customs, where we are met by about 25 Guatemala and US drug agents in training. After customs, we taxi to park away from the terminal, where there are a number of confiscated drug planes, with more parked on the other side of the airport, including a Gulfstream, Embraer and other expensive big iron. We then leave Guatemala City for Antigua, which turns out to be an absolutely charming colonial capital city about an hour and a half drive into the highlands. We arrive at Hotel Camino Real, which is very nice and its time for a Cerveza, shower,  then we reconvene for a group dinner.

Our first full day in Antigua we do a walking tour of the city, which is surrounded by volcanic mountains, one active. The city was the third capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, that at that time included Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica under Spanish Conquistador rule. It is known for its well preserved Baroque Spanish architecture and many church ruins and retains the cobblestone streets.

We have lunch, in our case with our guide in a local restaurant for native food, very different but very good, of course with a local cerveza. We explore the city on our own for the rest of the day then reconvene for cocktails before a group picture in front of the hotel, then off to a local restaurant for dinner.

The second day we have the option to select one of several tours. We select a tour of surrounding villages, that specialize in different crafts, others choose to climb to the top of one of the volcano’s, the one in the photo covered by clouds. We view the city from a hill then we see locals doing laundry, a textile weaving village, a jade processing factory and a Macadamia nut farm before returning to Antigua.

Since its Saturday we then go to the farmers market on the edge of the city, where locals do their weekly shopping. My only fear was getting lost in the market which was teaming with buyers and sellers crowed in narrow aisles around acres of stands. It was chaotic but fun. After the tour we wandered off to a local restaurant for lunch and did some more touring and shopping.

It was cocktails and dinner at the hotel after the briefing for the flight to Panama very early the next morning. Antigua proved to be a highlight of the trip and worthy of being designated a World Heritage Sight.

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